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How is immunotherapy making an impact on liver cancer ?

The liver is a crucial organ whose role is to filter the blood and circulate it throughout the body. Besides, it also gets rid of harmful chemicals and toxins. So, it performs multiple functions, including detoxification, drug processing, and metabolism of fat and sugars. Liver cancer can be broadly categorized under: primary and secondary. Primary liver cancer originates within the liver cells, while secondary liver cancer starts in the cancer cells that develop in other body parts, but eventually spread to the liver. In fact, even liver cancer can spread to other parts of the body, including breasts or lungs. Once liver cancer advances, the symptoms one may experience include fatigue, nausea, back pain, vomiting, weight loss, jaundice, fever, liver swelling, etc. One of the most common types of liver cancer is Hepatocellular Carcinoma, caused due to Hepatitis B or C infections and excessive consumption of alcohol. Approximately 80% of liver cancers originate from cells of the bile ducts. The following are three types of liver cancer:

  • Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)
  • Cholangiocarcinoma (bile duct cancer)
  • Hepatoblastoma, the most common type of childhood liver cancer

Patients with liver cancer have a survival rate of 31% and can live up to three to five years. Once the cancer starts spreading to the surrounding organs and lymph nodes, the survival rate can drop to 11%, whereas it drops to as low as 3% if it spreads to other body organs. Patients diagnosed with liver cancer must seek immediate medical attention to increase their likelihood of survival. In recent years, immunotherapy for liver cancer in India has made great strides. Let’s take a closer look at how this newly emerging adjuvant form of treatment can prove effective for liver cancer.

The hepatitis virus is the primary cause of liver cancer, responsible for about 80% of the cases. Untreated hepatitis B and hepatitis C can lead to inflammation in the liver, which, in turn, leads to scarring (cirrhosis) in many cases. The liver’s attempts to repair and replace the damaged tissue can make way for an error in DNA replication, which leads to cancer. Other risk factors for liver cancer include alcohol-related cirrhosis, obesity, and diabetes.

What is Immunotherapy

The immune system comprises white blood cells, tissues, and organs of the lymph system, and all of these components contribute to fighting against harmful infections and diseases that attack the body. Immunotherapy helps your immune system fight against liver cancer, by treating the cancer with substances made from living organisms. Hence, it is also referred to as biologic therapy. Through immunotherapy, oncologists help the immune system recognize healthy cells and only attack the cancerous cells. The following are some of the common forms of immunotherapy:

  1. Checkpoint inhibitors: This treatment involves giving drugs to patients to help the immune system differentiate between the healthy cells and cancer cells.
  2. Cytokines: These are proteins used to carry a message between cells. Through this treatment, cytokines can help the immune cells attack cancer cells.
  3. Cancer vaccines: This refers to administering cancer vaccines to patients of cancer, which helps the immune system fight against cancer..
  4. Monoclonal antibodies: These are human-made proteins of the immune system that attack a specific part of the cancer cell.
  5. Oncolytic viruses: These viruses are created in laboratories with the purpose of killing tumor cells and treating cancer.

Immunotherapy for liver cancer in India is also sometimes carried out using genetic engineering. Genetic engineering empowers the cancer-fighting property of the immune system’s cells. This is also known as Gene Therapy. Immunotherapy is often used as an adjuvant treatment that complements radiation, chemotherapy, or surgery to treat and/or prevent different types of cancer.

Immunotherapy and Liver Cancer

Statistics reveal that men are more diagnosed with liver cancer, as compared to women, though in recent years, the rate seems to be rising for both. Since the human body cannot survive without a functioning liver, it is all the more crucial to treat liver cancer urgently AND effectively. Immunotherapy is a class of treatments that attempt to make the most of the patient’s own immune system to kill cancer cells. The following are the three FDA-approved immunotherapy for liver cancer options that are currently available:

  • Atezolizumab (Tecentriq®)
  • Ipilimumab (Yervoy®)
  • Nivolumab (Opdivo®)
  • Pembrolizumab (Keytruda®)

Several other immunotherapies are currently undergoing clinical trials, including oncolytic viruses and adoptive cell therapy.

Why Denvax?

Denvax is a leading chain of clinics for immunotherapy in India. Pioneered by renowned cancer immunotherapists, Dr. Jamal A. Khan and Dr. Sharmin Yaqin, Denvax clinic is headquartered in New Delhi, with branches in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Kolkata, and Chennai. These clinics offer immunotherapy for different types of cancer, including brain cancer, breast cancer, stomach cancer, oral cancer, oesophagus cancer, gallbladder cancer, liver cancer, and so on.

Driven by the mission of making cancer treatment affordable and accessible to a larger population, Denvax clinics, with a high immunotherapy success rate, aim to benefit a massive number of patients from high quality, meaningful research. Denvax is a targeted treatment plan that rejuvenates the immune system, by transforming a patient's own cells into cancer-fighting dendritic cells.

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